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Birthday celebration really brings it home

97-year-old gets to have dinner in the house she was born in

Margaret “Peg” Folgmann celebrates her 97th birthday with Linda and William McDaniel in Conway. The McDaniels now own the house that Folgmann was born in. Submitted photo

Margaret “Peg” Folgmann celebrates her 97th birthday with Linda and William McDaniel in Conway. The McDaniels now own the house that Folgmann was born in. Submitted photo

GREENFIELD — Margaret “Peg” Folgmann spent her 97th birthday with family and friends having dinner in the room she was born in.

“I was so excited,” said Folgmann, who turned 97 on March 21.

The Arbors of Greenfield resident went with her son and granddaughter to the Conway home of Linda and William McDaniel.

The home, which sits in the area of Conway known as Pumpkin Hollow, was the one Folgmann was born in on March 21, 1917.

She was there Friday night, because of a “kind and generous” invitation she said she received from its current owners.

“We had her for dinner on her 95th birthday,” said Linda McDaniel. “She didn’t come last year because she was ill.”

McDaniel said it all started with a knock at the door.

About 20 years ago, Folgmann took a ride with a visiting friend to show that friend where she’d lived when she was born.

Folgmann said she knocked on the McDaniels’ door and a nice couple invited her and her friend in.

“I’ve always been interested in the house,” said Folgmann. “I stopped there several times before Linda and Bill bought it, but they are the ones who pretty much gave me an open invitation.”

Folgmann accepted that invitation and has visited several times over the years, and Linda McDaniel said she and her husband are glad.

“She’s amazing,” said McDaniel. “She’s very outgoing and brings pictures and stories every time she comes. I really look forward to her visits.”

The McDaniels have extended an invitation to Folgmann for dinner on her birthday at their house for the rest of her life.

“They are just so kind and thoughtful,” said Folgmann, who said the dinner conversation always starts with her reminiscing.

“We had no heat, no running water and no electricity in 1917,” said Folgmann. “We had a pump in the pantry, a fireplace in the dining room and an outhouse in our yard.”

Folgmann said her parents converted the dining room into a birthing room as they started having children, because it was the warmest room in the house. One of the owners after Folgmann’s parents sold the house, converted the room back to a dining room and the McDaniels have kept it that way.

But, Folgmann said, the memories are still there — she doesn’t remember her birth, of course, but heard many stories about it from her parents over the years.

“My parents bought the house around 1916,” said Folgmann. “The deed was signed by (former 30th Pres.) Calvin Coolidge, who was a lawyer in Northampton at the time.”

Folgmann said the house has since been renovated several times, most recently by the McDaniels, who moved there in 1989.

“It’s beautiful,” said Folgmann. “They’ve brought it back closer to what it was like when I lived there.”

Folgmann, her son Fred Eldridge of Conway, and his 22-year-old daughter Molly of Conway enjoyed a chicken and maple dish recently featured on The Recorder’s food page, as well as birthday cake baked by her granddaughter.

Folgmann brought some pictures of herself standing outside the home and everyone had a delightful time.

“We’re so happy to be able to do this,” said McDaniel, who works at Hampshire College and plans to retire in June. “We’ve learned so much about the house and the area over the years. We’ve met people from all over the country and outside of the country — people Peg brought by to see where she was born.”

McDaniel said Folgmann is welcome to stop by any time she’d like, for any reason.

“We love that she has such a deep connection with this house,” said McDaniel. “All these years she’s kept that connection and that’s quite amazing.”

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